NPR

Should A State Execute A Killer So Impaired He No Longer Recalls The Crime?

In 1985, Vernon Madison shot and killed a police officer who had been assigned to protect his girlfriend. His severe dementia presents a moral and constitutional dilemma for the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court grappled with a difficult death penalty question Tuesday. Does it violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment to execute a convicted murderer who has such severe dementia that he doesn't remember the crime he committed?

Vernon Madison committed a terrible crime. In 1985, after leaving his girlfriend's house, he returned, and shot and killed a police officer who sat outside in his car to provide protection for the woman.

Twice Madison was sentenced

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR4 min read
Movies Cast A Spell In 'Show People'
Author Michael Newton waxes rhapsodic in his new book about a century of acting, with a special fondness for performances about performance; it's taken for granted how much we love movies.
NPR2 min read
Summer Walker: Tiny Desk Concert
One week after releasing a record-shattering studio debut, the Atlanta native brings a glowing R&B set to the Tiny Desk.
NPR4 min read
What's Behind The Research Funding Gap For Black Scientists?
Black scientists more often seek grants for community health studies, but molecular-level research proposals win more funding. More diversity throughout the process could help close the gap, says NIH.